Forty days from now I will turn 40 years old. I hadn’t planned this post until I was sitting at my desk yesterday thinking, in about 40 days I will turn 40! Forty is interesting to me. The number in and of itself (and the age as well). In fact, I wrote an entire book about the 40 days leading up to your wedding day and how you should pray and prepare because of the significance of that period. In the Bible, 40 days symbolizes a period of trial before a new beginning. The period following the 40 days was a period of rebirth, of growth or of ministry. It’s so rare to know 40 days before a consequential event occurs! It gives you a unique opportunity to prepare for a new beginning just as God used 40 days to prepare those facing change in the Bible.
What if I considered with the same gravitas the forty days leading up to the next decade of my life? When I reflect upon the past decade, it has certainly been the most monumental of my life. When I turned 30, I was heartbroken. Friends had thrown me two parties, one in Dallas/Fort Worth from where I had just moved and one in Houston, and yet nothing snapped me out of the funk in the months leading up to that birthday. I had gone through a particularly hard break up, and I was single and had moved to a new city and felt lost. I had hoped I would be married with kids, and I felt adrift with my faith and my life and my goals. Surprisingly, right after I turned 30, the fog lifted. I had no new deadlines in terms of the appropriate age for certain milestones, and therefore I couldn’t fail to achieve them. I ended up loving my new job and I met Bray less than three months after my birthday (hard to believe we’ve been together 10 years). What came next I could never have imagined or predicted or set out to achieve: a marriage, two more jobs, a set of triplets, some crazy awards, amazing travel, writing a blog and a book, finding new friends, and on and on.
I approached that 30th decade with no prayer or preparation. I wonder if I could do it differently this time around? I wonder if I could tackle some issues in prayer and in action that need to be tidied up before I turn 40?
There’s a few ways I thought I could tackle this. I considered my dear friend Christine Wright who was inspired to do 80 Acts of Kindness in celebration of her 40th birthday earlier this year. I thought about the 40 Days Marriage Prep Journal I wrote and the prayers I described there for the marriage ahead. I pondered a blog my wonderful girlfriend Julie sent me in solidarity with some of the mom challenges I’m having. I thought of the preparation of those people in monumental “40 day periods” in the Bible.
Then I came up with this: Tackle four categories of critical issues in my life and write one post every ten days for the next forty describing what I’m learning (loosely, I don’t write on Saturdays and Sundays). These are the topics:
1. 40 Days to be a Better Mom – There are a lot of ways that I could do this, but the post Julie sent me focused me on one specific area I want to work on – yelling/not getting upset. There are a few other things I will work on, but the emphasis will be on controlling my emotions.
2. 40 Days to be a Better Wife – Okay, so there’s a lot of stuff I could do to improve here but I’m going to focus on the two issues that create conflict or my bad reaction – Bray’s travel and spending money. I’m going to work on not trying to manage his travel or freak out if he’s gone. I’ll stop spending on “extras” since we have a much tighter family budget this year with the kids in private school plus needing to keep our nanny to cover the gaps. It’s also being respectful of him since he’s working hard to budget and save for our long term future.
3. 40 Days to be a Better Worker – I wrote a bible study a while back and part of it focused on how God requires us to work hard. I am not sure what this looks like yet, but part of it is focused on improving how efficiently I spend my time at work and how dedicated I am to producing the absolute best day in and day out.
4. 40 Days to be a Better Person – Part of this will entail the good deed aspect that Christine wrote about. Part of this would hopefully result in some greater good for the world. The only practical way I know is to give some specific things to meet a specific need, somewhat reflective of my 39 Things Challenge (I’m waiting for God to reveal this piece to me) and to see if I can find a way to have 40 World Vision children sponsored. I’ll write more about this latter piece, but I sponsor Dickson from Zimbabwe and am so passionate about the work that Rich Stearns is doing. (If you do sponsor a child, would you drop me a note to let me know so I can keep track?)
I won’t do this perfectly. But I do want to acknowledge these 40 days as time to grow and develop and dig deeper into my faith, rely more upon my God, and serve my family and my community in a greater and more sustainable way.